Golden State Warriors coach Don Nelson claimed sole possession of first place on the NBA’s career wins list in his team’s last game. Based on the recent play of the Los Angeles Clippers, he can likely expect to add to his record total as the Pacific Division rivals close their season series.
Nelson goes for win No. 1,334 as the Warriors try to hand the Clippers their eighth straight loss Saturday night in Los Angeles.
With time winding down in his 31st season on the bench, Nelson passed Lenny Wilkens on the career wins list with a 116-107 victory over Minnesota on Wednesday night.
“It’s just such a neat feeling,” the 69-year-old said. “This is probably why we end up coaching, for moments like this.”
Wins haven’t been easy to come by for Nelson this season, as the injury-plagued Warriors (24-54) have one of the worst records in the league. But they shot 56.1 percent and led by as much as 27 against the Timberwolves.
Clippers interim coach Kim Hughes is far behind Nelson with six career victories. Los Angeles (27-52) has dropped 23 of 29 since Hughes took his first head coaching job after Mike Dunleavy’s resignation in early February, including 17 of 19 after a 116-94 defeat at Sacramento on Thursday night.
“We didn’t compete tonight,” said forward Drew Gooden(notes), who had 17 points. “I don’t know as far as our future and how we are going to play the rest of the games, but we didn’t compete tonight. We competed last game. Tonight we competed only in stretches.”
The Clippers haven’t been very competitive in their last two meetings with the Warriors. Since taking a 118-90 victory in the opener of the season series Nov. 6, Los Angeles has dropped the last two matchups by an average of 24.0 points.
Clippers point guard Baron Davis(notes) helped Nelson’s Warriors become the first No. 8 seed to upset a No. 1 team in a best-of-seven playoff series in 2007 before clashing with the coach and signing with Los Angeles before the 2008-09 season. Since leaving the Warriors, Davis has averaged 21.2 points and 8.2 assists against his former club.
Davis, though, has shot 23.3 percent (7 for 30) in the back-to-back losses to Golden State.
Curry, who has shot 11 for 22 from 3-point range over his last three games, has reached double figures in points and assists in three of his last four, with the Warriors winning all three. He had his first career triple-double with 36 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds against the Clippers on Feb. 10.
“I have just gotten better over the course of the year,” Curry said. “I’m staying focused on learning from my mistakes earlier and staying confident.”